The coauthors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman's were Gallup analysts who in 1999 drew insights from 25 years of Gallup studies of 80,000 managers across 400 companies.
Most of those managers "broke all the rules" of convention by concluding that the best managers fostered strengths and ignored weaknesses rather than creating a team of well-rounded individuals. They also found that managers were more important to their employees' success and happiness than the overall company's culture and initiatives.
Great managers do not follow the Golden Rule.
The Golden Rule, which states that we must treat others as we would like to be treated, is one of the most common pitfalls of management. It may come from good intentions, but acting as if our employees share our same approach to working is setting them up for failure. So the best managers reject the Golden Rule, the authors state. Great managers treat each person as he would like to be treated, bearing in mind who he is.
Managers and leaders are profoundly different, but both are necessary.
"Great managers look inward," they wrote. "Great leaders, by contrast, look outward."
That is, leaders do not have the time to determine the individual needs and styles of their employees because they are focused on bigger-picture thinking. It's up to managers to establish these relationships and foster excellent output.
Employees should primarily be hired for talent.
Experience, intelligence, and determination are also important factors to consider when looking at a job candidate, but the primary focus should be on talent. Talent is "a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behaviour that can be productively applied." the authors define.
Employees should be guided by outcomes, not steps.
"Define the right outcomes and then let each person find his route toward those outcomes," the authors wrote. Also, when a manager spends time with an employee, "they are not fixing or correcting or instructing. Instead, they are racking their brains, trying to figure out better and better ways to unleash that employee's distinct talents."
To have a thriving organization, a company must offer several developmental paths, creating "heroes" in each primary function so that an employee is rewarded with more freedom to excel. If managers meet with their employees on a one-on-one basis at least once a month and they agree upon goals, then success can easily be measured.
Buckingham, M. Coffman, C. (1999) First, "Break All The Rules: What The World Greatest Managers Do Differently", USA, Simon & Schuster.